PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details
Solutionaries is a credit-bearing course teaching social innovation through games, activities, reflection, and real-world projects. The course is taught in universities to groups of 20 students in two 75-minute sessions/week, 60 sessions over 2 semesters, resulting in 75+ hours of transformative learning. Who facilitates? Arab diaspora youth who have experienced the life-changing power of education and act as teachers in a groundbreaking peer-to-peer learning model. We recruit, train, and bring them to Jordan for a year of service on the frontlines of development in the Arab world.
INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.
Solutionaries course content is 100% evidence-based, drawing on cutting-edge theories like neuroplasticity and the groundbreaking work of researchers such as Carol Dweck, Angela Duckworth, Martin Seligman, Ken Robinson, and James Kaufman. Every day new knowledge emerges about cultivating student potential and the role of challenge, grit, divergent thinking, and mindset in teaching creativity, critical thinking, and innovative problem solving. As education systems fail to prepare students for an uncertain future, the time is now to apply evidence-based theories to transform learning worldwide!
LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?
Learning through play means learning by doing. Through Solutionaries, our students experience—often for the first time—inductive learning. They do an activity, then identify what they’ve learned through reflection. This is a powerful way to motivate and build capacity for lifelong learning. Learning through play also means developing essential creative capacities. Play not only gives students fun experiences, it literally re-wires their brains for innovation by strengthening the neural pathways associated with divergent thinking, creative problem solving, and “making friends with failure.”
SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.
The following are projections for the 2014/15 academic year:
Revenue from University Partners: $80,000
Foundation Funding: $200,000
Government Grants: $150,000
Major Gifts: $70,000
Individual (online) Donors: $20,000
MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?
We are a nonprofit organization, funded largely through donations. However, a major part of our mission is to change the way that education is perceived and achieved in the Arab world, which is why we ask our university partners to invest in bringing critical and creative thinking education to their institution by paying Think Unlimited for the course. On average, universities pay us 50% of the tuition fees of students enrolled in Solutionaries.
FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?
We would increase our impact by taking Solutionaries to an additional partner university—$20K would cover about a third of this cost. Having invested heavily in R&D and completed a successful pilot in Spring, 2014, we are poised to have a transformative impact by taking this program to scale.
PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.
Zarqa University, American University of Madaba, German Jordanian University, and Petra University are our implementing partners in Jordan, each of whom, by partnering with Think Unlimited, is bringing student-centered, project-based learning to their campuses for the first time. We also partner with the Jordanian Ministry of Culture to promote creativity and innovation inside and outside of the classroom.
COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.
We have considered contacting organizations that have also developed original curricula for issue-centered experiential learning—particularly those who are working in countries with an authoritarian governmental and/or cultural environment—to get ideas for enhancing our course content.
VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?
Solutionaries would be offered in all 42 Jordanian universities and across the MENA region, providing transformative learning experiences to thousands of youth. Our university partners would also be transforming their own classrooms from one-way lecture and rote memorization to interactive, experiential learning. We hope to see our program graduates leading change, showing by example that re-imagining learning leads to re-imagined societies.
IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time
1.Significant movement from Fixed to Growth Mindset (as shown through behavioral measures, not just self-report)
2.Improved performance on Divergent Thinking tasks
3.Improved outcomes on measures of Empathy and Grit
Success to us is when students put learning to work in their communities. We hope to see more program grads successfully implementing innovative ideas and initiatives in order to change their societies for the better.
Other (please specify)
We use impact measures designed by external experts, but we administer them ourselves.
APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.
Games with Rules, Creating a Supportive Socio-Emotional Environment, Educational Structuring (developing playful projects within educational contexts), Challenging Play (play that disrupts - where rules are disregarded and levels of imagination are high).
AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.